Learned Girls and Male Persuasion: Gender and Reading in by Sharon Lynn James

By Sharon Lynn James

This research transforms our knowing of Roman love elegy, a massive and complicated corpus of poetry that flourished within the overdue first century b.c.e. Sharon L. James reads key poems by means of Propertius, Tibullus, and Ovid for the 1st time from the point of view of the girl to whom they're addressed—the docta puella, or discovered lady, the poet's loved. by way of studying the poetry no longer, as has continuously been performed, from the stance of the elite male writers—as plaint and confession—but quite from the perspective of the women—thus as persuasion and tried manipulation—James finds innovations and substance that nobody has listened for sooner than.

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Sample text

Domina iudice tutus ero (“I would prefer to read aloud while lying in the lap of my learned girl . . with my mistress as my arbiter, I’ll be safe”). 97 Appropriately for a love object addressed as a superior, the elegiac woman is usually proud, demanding, even fierce; naturally, she is beautiful, and her beauty turns out to be both a generic and a professional necessity. ), though the same accusation does not apply to the lover-poet when he strays. Her temper can be harsh. When she grants him her sexual favors, she is physically soft and tender, and she expects him to be able to perform sexually (cf.

131 Perhaps the death of this particular author set his elegist-readers free to adapt elegy after their own images (though it must also have given them cause for alarm). Elegy managed to establish itself very quickly thereafter—the elegists managed to establish it very quickly—as a genre132 operating in a constricted field of plots, characters, and narrative structures, while still taking on virtually all previous Latin and Greek poetry, remaining all the while interesting, fun, lively, rather than dull and pedantic.

Rather than take a great amount of time and space to 32 / Concepts, Structures, and Characters delineate here all the positions taken in the studies of intertextuality and allusion in Latin poetry studies (on which see most recently Hinds 1998 and Edmunds 2001), I will make a few remarks on my approach here. I see this genre as both independent of and subject to authorial invention and intention and as absolutely requiring readerly participation and activation. , Catull. 124 Conte (1994: 136) remarks that “[t]his poetry of a literary circle almost makes us see the persons who compose it as participants in an exclusive dialogue as they speak among themselves, in poetry and about poetry.

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